Billy Hamilton has crammed various types of shoes and cleats into every corner of his locker in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse at Great American Ball Park. There are at least 15 pairs, most featuring his No. 6 on the heel and “B.Ham” on the side.
One pair of those cleats created a moment to remember Sunday in a season to forget. Hamilton rushed home from third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to score on a passed ball, giving the Reds a 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and a 2-1 series win.
“I wanted to get as close to home as I could,” Hamilton told Fox Sports Ohio after the game, seconds before getting drenched by a bucket of water tossed by teammate Ivan De Jesus Jr. “A passed ball or anything, as long we scored a run.”
Hamilton maintained his speed after the game — he left the stadium before talking to reporters — but he didn’t need to explain his thinking in the ninth. Everyone has seen the Hamilton show before on the basepaths.
By the time Hamilton got to the plate in the ninth inning with two outs, the Reds (34-58) had scored one run in the last 18 2/3 innings against the Brewers. They didn’t score in the eighth inning Friday in a 5-4 victory. They lost 9-1 Saturday and collected only four hits in the first eight innings Sunday.
Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg had things under control in the ninth until Hamilton’s at-bat. Once Hamilton walked, the game changed. Hamilton has that effect on opposing teams.
“It creates a lot of anxiety with the defense,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “From my perspective, I enjoy watching it.”
After Hamilton walked, Will Smith replaced Thornburg. Smith played plenty of attention to Hamilton, throwing over to first base several times, before walking Joey Votto.
Hamilton then stole third base without drawing a throw. That was his 24th stolen base of the season and 150th of his career.
With Jay Bruce at the plate and Hamilton dancing down the line at third base, Smith threw a pitch that handcuffed the catcher, Jonathan Lucroy. The ball didn’t get more than 15 feet away from the plate. Lucroy pounced on it fast. His throw to Smith at home sailed high, though Hamilton had it beat anyway.
“It’s not just that today,” said Reds starter Dan Straily, who threw seven scoreless innings. “It’s everything he does. Every time the ball’s hit to center field, I assume it’s caught. No matter where it’s going, I feel he’s got a great chance to get it. It’s the energy he brings every day.”
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